Author Archives: J. Moore

Lifting a Glass…Once Again

We, all, have those days that we mark on our calendars to reflect on something or someone. Whether we do so to honor or simply remember is usually up to each individual to decide upon. As a Nation, even Congress, for their lacking in getting most of what really needs to get done accomplished… they do manage to get a lot of endless resolutions passed like “National Take Your French Poodle To Lunch Day” (OK, probably not a real resolution but I’ve seen the lists and this one is close.)

Today is a day that has always been a special one in my life and I wanted to share it with you. First by telling you a few interesting things that happened in 1930…

# The first literary character licensing agreement is signed by A.A. Milne, granting Stephen Slesinger U.S. and Canadian merchandising rights to the Winnie-the-Pooh works. ( over 80 years later he’s still a “Tubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff.” )

# The first frozen foods of Clarence Birdseye go on sale in Springfield, Massachusetts. ( A good raw steak was replaced by a frozen bag of peas for a black eye)

# Mahatma Gandhi set off on his 200 mile protest “Salt March” to the sea.(Truth be known he did a lot more than march in 1930)

# Hostess Twinkies are invented. ( But it will take many years before the pot smoking craze in the 60’s will place them on the lists of harmful addictions)

#The first Soccer World Cup starts. ( Willing to bet that the spectators weren’t as over-zealous back than as they are now)

#Warner Bros. release their first cartoon series called ‘Loony Tunes’ ( They would survive into this century only fall under the Right Wing’s censorship eye.)

#The first night game in organized baseball history takes place in Independence, Kansas. (Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues, carried portable lights around on their team bus.)

#The dedication of George Washington’s head is held at Mount Rushmore. ( The dedication of former President G.W. Bush’s head done in butter will have to wait due to global warming.)

#Judge Joseph Force Crater steps into a taxi in New York and disappears.( the taxi part turned out to be a myth probably brought on by disgruntled bus drivers or subway conductors trying to stifle the taxi industry)

#Betty Boop premiers in the animated film “Dizzy Dishes”. ( Today, I fear she would be banned by the social right as sexist)

#Cecil George Paine, a pathologist in England, achieves the first recorded cure using penicillin. ( Who would of thought how important moldy bread would become.)

#U.S. President Herbert Hoover goes before Congress and asks for a US $150 million public works program to help generate jobs and stimulate the economy. ( There are those who think only President Obama has asked Congress for job money)

#W9XAP in Chicago, Illinois, broadcasts the U.S. senatorial election returns, which is the first time a senatorial race, with non-stop vote tallies, is ever televised. ( And look at what it started)

#The chocolate chip cookie is invented by Ruth Wakefield. (Waistlines were never the same.)

Another less documented but in my eyes equally important event on a day in 1930, a child was born…a male child to a house painter and a church school teacher in Chicago,Illinois.

Right from the start he stood out with a head full of curly almost white hair which would bring him a fifteen minutes of fame moment early in his life. In the first week  of  April, 1932…this 18 month old boy and his mother were taken from a park and detained by the Chicago police for hours until the boy’s father could be found and even then there was panic until he could produce proof of the child’s identity.

A month before in New Jersey, 20-month old Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr., was abducted by an intruder from his crib and this child in Chicago very closely resembled the picture on the poster the officers kept waving in the poor woman’s face and the multitudes of dark suits men around her shouting increased the fear and confusion within her.

The woman…my  grandmother.The young child…my father. The story of that day would always eventually be told at every family reunion I attended but it was only at the top of a very long list as my father’s life was a fascinating mixture of this country’s history as well as the ups and downs of everyday life. Though not a rich or famous person, his experiences and life events were woven into a timeline of major conflicts and changes in this country.

In a lot of ways he was a rebel…in as much transition as the nation surrounding him. Restless and wanting, he left school and home at 14. Hitch hiking and rail riding all over the states though he would later complain that the only two states he never managed to make it to Alaska or Hawaii. He would later describe it to us as his “seemingly endless class trip”.

He enlisted in the Army (took him three tries as he was underage at the time). Luck was on his side because at the time we were engaged in the Korean War and a lot of young men’s true ages were overlooked. He began to grow in the service…getting his much needed schooling and rising in the ranks to Drill Sargent. He admitted that being a short skinny guy made him a bit tougher on those recruits taller and more buff than him but in all honesty he was also taught that being hard on them would make them strong for their roads ahead.

While on leave from Fort Benning,Georgia, He traveled to Atlantic City,NJ where he and a friend were almost run over by a 1951 Chevy fleet line. He fell to the ground …giving the car’s bumper a smack on the way down, giving the illusion that they had hit him. He pretended to be hurt all because they had noticed that the car was being driven by a young girl and her friend.

The courtship was whirlwind to say the least and juicy material for another sharing. For now I will tease you with the fact that they only knew each other for three weeks before they were married.

The war was in full throttle as he tried to do his best with his duties as a drill Sargent but the responsibility of preparing young men for war is not an easy one and news of how many of his trainees were being wounded or killed overseas weighed heavy on him.

He tried to get deployed with one unit that he had become very attached to but a back injury could not be as  easily disguised as his early age was. Many years later I got to meet some of the men that my father had trained and they overwhelming said that it was the skills that he had taught them that pulled them through.

He was stationed in Panama for awhile but my mother wanted more than the Army was giving them and with many regrets he left the service.

Stock car racing…cross-country trucking…even dabbled at honky-tonkin’ down south where he met some interesting fellas just starting out (again tales for another time). He came to settle on being an ace car mechanic, who could listen to an engine for less than a minute and tell you what was wrong with it.He was a king of barters finding ways to provide for his family by loaning out his skills to all that had something to trade. He would work many jobs at one time to keep his growing family taken care of.

Our home was an open door to any one who needed a place to go. My early memories start in Chicago. My father was a Scout leader. A member of more than one community help group. On occasion a police officer might drop by our house with a homeless or runaway teen who they didn’t want to take to jail but needed some guidance that they thought my father could provide and he usually did. A time when there was a much greater sense of caring in our country.

His life stories would be the foundation of his skills as a mentor and father. He was by many standards a quiet man so that when he sat down with a multitude of young eyes and ears surrounding him there was always a tale…always a shared memory that would have a lesson learned or simply evoked a room full of laughter.  I was the most fortunate of all his children to be the closest to him.

Starting in grade school when I would be called to the office because my father was there to take me to a doctor’s appointment. There was no appointment. He would take me to the ball park for a Cubs game or other special places that would later shape me into the person I became. He had a great love of history,music and passing down of family stories.Some of them I found entertaining but hard to believe until later years when much to my amazement I learned that they were for the most part all true. I grew up watching him keep rooms full of people enthralled with his wisdom and charm.

He never called me his favorite instead telling me that he wanted some company and I was the only one that wouldn’t tell on him to Mom.

My sons never got to meet their grandfather as my father died at the young age of 53. He had led an adventure filled life and I receive so much joy in making sure his grandsons know who he was. Sharing him here with you also give me pause to smile and reflect on how truly special this man was.

Today is his birthday and as it has been for the last 33 years since his passing…I keep a bottle of Crown Royal ( his favorite brand) on my desk. It is only opened once a year on this day…in honor and remembrance of a man who did so much for so many…

A man who taught me that life was seldom easy but always interesting…A man who taught me that giving a hand to help another was the greatest feeling on earth…I fear that it is also the most lost lesson in our nation right now.

But that too is for another time…for now, won’t you lift a glass ( with whatever beverage pleases you) and give a small wink skyward in celebration of a very special man…named Owen.   Happy Birthday, Dad.

The Road Got A Bit Bumpy

Seems like I spend a lot of time telling you how sorry I am that I haven’t been able to write for you. My illness made it very hard to even type and recent events have made it more important to give all my energy to things happening around me. Please don’t give up on me though as I have been keeping my journal up to date…if I could only type as fast as I can write this would be easier but choosing drama class instead of typing class is coming back to haunt me (not really, I loved that class.) My son has offered to type for me but I really want to do it so I will try to get so things on here soon. Thanks for all the emails….they really have made me smile.

A Very Thankful Moment

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone….near and far…I have so much to be thankful for this year and I want to thank all those who have had to put up with me and my illness. Especially my sons…I let myself become sicker than I needed to because I was too proud (or stubborn) to accept that I couldn’t take care of things alone. For that I am sorry that I caused a lot of worry amongst so many very wonderful people.


I’m also sorry to those who love me that I didn’t let know how sick I had become. I have always been an independent sort of person who doesn’t like not being a bother or burden. Silly I know but after all these years, it’s who I am. But I promise that I will try and do better in the sharing department even if it’s not all rainbows and sunshine.

I am thankful that the spirits that be have let me come this far and given me such wonderful gifts and blessings. I sometimes wonder if I am truly worthy of such blessings.

I am thankful for family…hopeful that the ties that bind us will be strong enough to endure the separations and hardships that many times come between us. My heart is now and forever shall be filled with only the best of thoughts and prayers for each and everyone.

I am thankful that my path brought me to a place where I have been given such wonderful endearing people to work with. I know some of you are here and I am forever grateful that you have allowed me to be a part of your lives. Forever grateful that you,all, have helped me show my sons how much more life is when you are surrounded by caring…nurturing people.

I am thankful for the wisdom to know that we, all, need to cherish each moment and each other…that we can learn so much and pass on so much if we keep an open heart and an open mind. Smiles are contagious…laughter healing…and reaching out will always be better than pushing away.

On this day of Thanksgiving…my hopes and prayers are that the world gets less violent…less greedy…less crazy and that all those I love close their eyes for a moment and think of me because I am sending you all warm hugs and soft kisses. Be well & stay safe

“Older and Wiser…Not Always A Welcome Title”

I am finding that there are a few glitches  to growing old that I hadn’t been aware of…one of them being that even if one has had a long haul of not being honest with others about who or what they are, you get to a point where it’s not so easy to fool yourself anymore.

My first revelation came one night when I , who use to be the one who pumped up the volume…last one to call it quits…the one most likely to be still be jammin’ at sunrise…Me-the center that brought the group together….sighing as  my friends seemed to be just starting to party and I was already plotting an excuse for a quick exit. My next flash of self-awareness came in a humbling truth that while for years, I blamed not doing this or not getting that done on the stresses and strains of being a single working mom. I would write out lists and map out plans only to make my friends have to comfort me in my sorrow when a deadline slipped by or an opportunity was missed. How pitiful I was in my moments of  my-life-is-such-a-struggle. Damn, I was good at it too ! Was I really spread so thin between working and being a mom ? Hell, No ! I realize now that I was simply a member of the highest order of the Royal Procrastination Club !

Don’t get me wrong, I do work very hard and am a very hands on mom but all the things I had said I wanted to learn,to experience, to achieve… it wasn’t my job, life’s curve balls  or even my children that kept me from a lot of them…it was me ! Grand plans were just that “grand plans”. I did a little of this and a little of that but  there was still so much left  undone. I would make the effort to start several things. I would seem to have the best of intentions in mind. Research…explore different aspects…talk it out with friends…than as if on cue, the outlines…notes…concepts would find their way to a corner of my seemingly cluttered world and stay there… gathering dust until such time as I needed a reason for a pity party then they would be trotted out just long enough to have a few extra sympathy hugs from friends.

I have made it through what most would have dubbed a difficult life  as it was and yet I had always refused to see my struggles as nothing more than learning & survival phases of my journey but year after year there was that book I was going to write…that trip I was going to take…that skill I was going to master… or that dream job I was going to find. These are the sorts of things on the list I would convincingly told myself I could always do “someday”.

So many some-days have come and gone now and after the illness of this last year, I find myself wondering “What the hell am I waiting for ?” or because of that damn older & wiser glitch…”What the hell am I afraid of ?” Failure ? Nope ! Never believed in the word. I was raised to believe that good faith efforts and that sometimes you learn just as much from the bad things that happen as you do the good…meant that everything in life brought you pieces of the puzzle that helped make you who you are. Whether you choose to believe that to be negative or positive is entirely up to you.

So what am I to do with this disappointment in my own standstill on my timeline ? Put it on top of yet another pile on the corner of my desk ? Being honest with myself…really,really honest…damn, it really does suck ! No more table top dancing for me but that doesn’t mean I can’t still keep tempo with the melody that has been playing in my head and heart now for over 50 years. The Royal Procrastination Club will be losing this member…(which I don’t think anyone will notice as I kept putting off going to the never scheduled meetings)

So keep checking back and feel free to be one of those who remind me that if I don’t do it now I might not get another chance to do it… Thanks for listening.

Another Fork In The Road

   Hmmmm, seems I’ve been in this place before… looking around I do see some familiar things. It’s been awhile though… one of those walking around in a thick dark cloud kind of periods. What the heck ?? It’s not like I’d never had to go through bad stuff before…not like I’d never been in pain. Years of acceptance of things unchangeable and a strong desire to hold on to the positive things that have always kept me afloat in the past, I had truly come to believe that there was nothing I couldn’t deal with but I have to admit that these  last few months really rattled me.

   I want to thank all of you who kept refusing to let me just fade away . My youngest son would read me your messages and notes during the time when I wasn’t able to do for myself. I have always been fortunate to have connected  with so many wonderous spirits in the cyber realm. I hope I can return the kindness and smiles to you as well.

   So many interesting tales involve coming to a crossroad.A so-called “fork in the road of life”… The powers that be know I have seen more than my share of them… I feel blessed by the opportunity to venture down another path. I feel blessed to be able to have people to share with and learn from.

   For now it’s late and I really need to close my eyes for a bit but I had to do this much… I needed to begin again. So much to think about. It really is cool when there’s a break in the clouds and you can see color starting to wash over the grey. Stay safe,my friends

“Within My Father’s Tears”

On the sad 44th anniversary this month of a great loss for our Nation…I wanted to share with you one memory that still burns brightly in my mind and heart….


I can still remember that day I walked into a small polling place to vote for the first time. I had taken my grandmother to do “her civic duty” as she kept referring to it as. The whole ride there was filled with her lecturing me on the different aspects of this certain election and how important it was for our community, our country, our family and even myself that I take my responsibility seriously.

I smiled at her a lot that morning because she had no way of knowing that everything she was saying was already a very deep seeded part of my being, that her son…my father had in his own way given me a civic consciousness scattered out over the years with his lessons, his gifts of caring and sharing.

It was a hot, humid night in Chicago the spring of ’68…I was awakened by my mother’s voice calling for us all to get up. The window was on my side of the room and I could see that it was still dark outside. I arose quickly as I knew that tone in her voice and had learned not to question it. I struggled to wake up my little brother who shared a room with me. (My father divided us by age, not gender until we entered our pre-teen years)

For a small four-bedroom house, it was always filled beyond capacity and this night in particular it was busting at the seams with people…Family, friends, neighbors and quite a few people I did not recognize. Everyone was moving quickly about the rooms, talking over each other and filling my home with a very real sense of panic. I was becoming confused and upset as I searched the crowded rooms for the one person who I knew I could count on to help me understand what was happening.

I looked and there in front of our big picture glass living room window was my father. Standing there quietly with a cigarette in one hand and a highball glass in the other, staring intensely out not reacting at all to the chaos of the others running every which way behind him. I tugged at his shirt. He turned towards me with one of his famous half grins and for a moment I was no longer afraid.

Then things got crazy and blurred as some one came running in shouting about fires and a mob. My mother was non-stop crying by now as she gathered up the smaller children and herded the rest of us towards the streets outside lined with double parked cars. As the adults scrambled to place us in the cars, I turned towards the night sky.

Off to my left the dark blended into a strange yellow glow. Living in a big city there was always a night light glow to the sky but that night it was like none I had seen before. It flickered and flashed like one of my father’s lanterns that we took camping. My father was watching the sky as well and as he reached down to put my little sister in one of the cars there was a loud thundering sound that had him quicken his pace and for the first time yell out to my mother to hurry.

I ended up in the far back of a station wagon as we drove through the darkened neighborhoods, eventually away from the city, heading towards my grandparent’s farm in Indiana…my mother still upset but the sounds of my father’s whispering voice comforting her filled the car.

Our stay on the farm that next day, made me feel like the world was coming to an end. There were more than a dozen people camping outside the small farmhouse. My father had dropped us off and returned to the city, so my source of reassurance was gone.There was no tv and the adults had all the radios. As children we had to piece together what was going on from listening to the grown-ups talk to each other.

Martin Luther King had been killed and there had been wide spread chaos in Chicago. We had listened to Dr. King’s speeches as a family because my father had wanted us to grow with open hearts and open minds. We had just buried a friend who had died in Vietnam so I understood what killing was but this was beyond my understanding.

We went back a few days later, our neighborhood still for the most part intact but places around it still showed the signs of anger. My father, usually a quiet man, had made a special point to make sure we felt safe.Surprising us by becoming very excited in the weeks that followed. Senator Kennedy was coming to Chicago.

My brothers and sisters had gone along with my Uncle Bob on some of the visits to houses in our area, handing out election stuff supporting Sen. Kennedy for President. Uncle Bob talked to us about how he had helped campaign for President Kennedy and how important it was to help put good people in Washington. My father hardly ever talked politics to us, decided that he was going to take us to the rally that was being put together for the Senator the following month of June.

We went to spend the week before the rally on the farm…the trauma of that April was still lingering with the adults but we kids managed to have a good time…It was early on a Thursday morning, my father was suppose to be working in the city so we were very surprised to hear his car pull up outside. His face that morning as he walked into the farmhouse kitchen with all of his children sitting around a big table eating breakfast has stayed with me my whole life.

His eyes were red and big tears flowed done his cheeks. I had never seen my father cry before. I mean I was sure he had cried but never in front of us. My mother quickly wrapped her arms around him asking him what was wrong. “Senator Kennedy is dead…they killed him too.” was all he said as he buried his face on her shoulder and continued to sob.

Later that night I went and sat with him on the porch, as I took hold of his hand, he looked at me. I could see the sadness in his eyes as he tried to fake his half grin for me and if I had been older I might not have pressed him but I needed to know what he meant by “they killed him too”.

I can’t remember his exact words but the gist of it was that for all the good he believed there was in the world there also was an underlying evil. That there were people who thought that hatred and violence were the only ways they knew to get what they wanted.

He pulled me close to him wrapping his arms so very tightly around me. He was crying again and whispering to me that things would be alright and that we couldn’t let the bastards win.

A few months later in August, my mother had to go get he and my older brother out of jail because of a rather large heated debate outside the International Amphitheatre where the Democratic National Convention was being held.

My mother was so mad as she worried about the money that had gone for the bail but my father in true fashion smiled that half grin of his and said “we got to do what we got to do”.

Within my father’s tears I saw a passion for this country. We lost him at a young age but his actions and his words have always been with me. Part of me knows that he would be disappointed that I got wrapped up in my own personal world for a long time.

Someone pulled the blanket from over my head and made me look at what I helped let happen to our nation (but that’s a sharing for another time ).I am trying to right that wrong and set as good an example for my father’s grandsons that he had set for me. I have learned that alot of us lost that sense of National Pride but I truly feel that we can get it back.

We have come a long way since 1968 but there seems to be those who want us to backtrack instead of move ahead.We need to stick together and not let the bastards win… “We got to do what we got to do”.

On This Day and All Days :

“Why Can’t I Sleep ? “

It’s 3am and I haven’t been able to sleep all night. I gave it a good try more than once but just never seemed to connect with that darn Sandman. 16 years of having to be up at 4 every morning to go to work…6 days a week has programmed me too well . This first week of unemployment started out ok but each day has taken me into an area of uncertainty that I was not prepared for.

I rarely, up till now, have ever even had two days off in a row let alone a whole week. It started out ok. I had decided to take the first few days to get my head together as I knew that I would have to face the fact that I hadn’t had to look for a job in over a decade. I knew that the trend today was towards hiring the younger, less expensive and far more flexible workers…I had worked hard to get to that place in life where I didn’t think I would have to prove my abilities to anyone again but the best laid plans don’t always go the way we want them to.

I decided that a thorough “spring cleaning” would be a great way to start my new path. Unfortunately my sons were not use to such an event as growing up with this single mom who works a lot usually meant weekly chores and lists of “things to do “ posted on the fridge but a long stretched out time frame for getting things done was a factor both my busy sons liked. There I was pulling things out of closets ….rearranging the kitchen…moving furniture…cleaning whole walls and yes, deciding that those walls needed a new coat of paint. My poor sons still trying to grasp the fact that I was home a lot were doing their best to help.

What is it about sons that makes them so protective of their mothers ? I have always been a strong free thinking woman who raised them both with a very close eye even though I did work a lot. I wanted them to be independent as well as have minds of their own. We made it despite quite a few bumps in the road…hell, we made it through some real edge of the cliff stuff but we weathered the storms and kept things together. Neither of them are children anymore, at 16 & 28 they each in their own way are set into a routine of how they like to get things done. Up until now our planned “family time” together consisted of reading, games, watching classic movies and cooking at least one meal a day together (which was usually dinner). I got kisses good night and was off to bed long before either of them because of my early morning hours at work. It was a well ordered mixture of life’s happy moments seasoned with jobs, school and the occasional unplanned events. But they changed towards me when I lost my job.

Now it seems though that they both are worried if I have to sit down after scrubbing for awhile or if they find me just sitting quietly in a chair thinking and you should see the looks I get when I make those all to common I‘m-just-not-young-anymore groans. Yesterday, I will admit to you that I was having a sad moment about not being able to see some of my customers…People who I had taken care of every morning for so many years…My youngest caught me with tears in my eyes …ever since he has made it his mission that no matter what he is doing….he checks on me every ten minutes or so…which I confess was sweet at first but after a whole day of it….does get a bit annoying. Mostly because he doesn’t seem to believe me when I tell him that I’m ok.

My oldest is worried that now that I no longer have insurance that something catastrophic is going to happen to me. I have been battling illness all my life and he knows it but he seems to have forgotten that I was never ashamed about having to go and sit for hours at the free clinic when I had to . My doctors know that I can’t see them for awhile and have let me know that I can still call them with any concerns and have generously made sure I would have the meds I need to get by. I told my sons these things and been as positive as I can be and yet they still hover over me like any second I will fall apart. Both of them at different times have asked me if I wanted them to go with me when I went job hunting. I swear I half expect my oldest to come home and ask me if I need one of those Life-Alert buttons.

I know their concern is out of love for me and I really am so touched and proud of this but as I sit here and write this I realize that it may be one of the reasons I can’t sleep. I do have a lot to sort out . Trying to deal with our finances…finding another job…and still dealing with the loss of a very close and wonderful person in my life. So much to put in their proper places. I have always tried to deal with adversity with a positive attitude . I learned very young that anger and negative thoughts get me nowhere. But so much of my coping is built around thoughtful….quiet reflection and a deep down belief that if I listen hard I can hear my Dad’s voice in my head reassuring me that everything will eventually be ok. He has been gone almost thirty years now but I swear to you …he is still in my head as much as he is in my heart. Other than a few hours here and there my sons have managed to make sure one of them was with me at all times… I do love them so….but we all need our own “Me” time and I think that one of the reasons I couldn’t sleep and keep feeling a lost sort of feeling is because I haven’t had that soul searching….get my head on straight…pick myself up time that moments like this in life require.

Tomorrow is…oops wait it’s 4:30…LOL…today is Sunday…it will be the first Sunday I have had off in years…I think I’m going to take a long walk and find a place to sit and watch the sun come up. The boys are asleep. I’ll leave them a note promising them a big Sunday breakfast when I get back and for them not to worry but I suspect they will anyway.

I let a corporation dictate my life the last few years…I almost forgot that I use to do that myself and pretty well I might add from the awesome way my sons have turned out. Time to look within and find that positive flow again. It’s been a good time spent sharing with you again. I’ll try to do it more often as it really does make me feel more focused. Thanks J

Remembering A Most Talented Man: George Carlin

   In the late fall of 1983, I was standing backstage of the Indiana University Auditorium very anxious….palms sweating….and an undesired giggle attack hiding in the back of my throat begging to get out. I was there waiting to meet a man who had always been one of my icons. Heck, not just mine but my whole generation’s.

  I had just spent over an hour laughing so hard my sides ached and now here I was standing there watching him shaking hands with those who had gathered around him. I couldn’t move…started to panic that I would be like those fans who turn into babbling idiots ….afraid to open my mouth or worse giggle or cry…I stood there frozen as I could feel the heat flood my face probably making it as red as a tomato.

  My friend who had been kind enough to get me there was now talking to the man, the others, who had been circled around him, had left the stage area. The man who I was so nervous about meeting…..the man whose mere presence was making my knees knock… looked at me, pointed his finger and in a very loud voice yelled “ I have never seen this woman in my life ! I don’t care what she said…it’s not mine ! “ I burst out into laughter holding on to my then jiggling stomach ….as at the time I was 8 months pregnant and feeling (and in at least my mind looking) very much like a beached whale . He came over to me smiling and took my hand…I looked into his gentle face and warm eyes… I knew that he was someone I would love and admire forever. His name was George Carlin.

  I only got a few moments of his time as he had to leave but it was such a special memory to me. May 12th is his birthday and I decided to take the rest of the month to share some of his words with you…An amazing man who left us with an amazing legacy :

Please check out my “Quotes of Note” page for more of the thought-provoking smiles he left us.

“This Old Dog Can Still Bark”

“ For everything you have missed, you have gained something else and for everything you have gained you lose something.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I use to think that the world around me was just going crazy than I had to take a step back and accept that maybe it wasn’t the world but me. The last decade or so has brought this new generation to a different way of thinking when it comes to servicing the public. Technology has made some things easier but corporate greed …book taught, rather than working one’s way up-management coupled with an I’m-gonna-get-mine-first attitude has almost annihilated the phrase “ Slow and steady wins the race “ .

 It no longer seems to count for much to have years of experience and skills…nor does an opinion seasoned with age  carry very much weight when placed against one packed in multitudes of empty research memos based on mindless focus groups instead of real people. It’s not just jobs being shipped overseas that is damaging our work force but corporations sitting in an office dictating policies and procedures that aid only to increase a shareholders profit margin while doing very little to really serve it’s customers and even less to benefit an already under-paid work force.

My Oldest son is working on his 3rd college degree…why ? Well, it’s not because he just wants to work two minimum wage jobs and pile even more education debt on his back. No ! It’s because he could not find jobs in his fields of study after graduating ( one of them being architecture…that bubble burst the year he graduated the first time).Even with his degree to be a math teacher his future is foggy at best but he knows without a degree in something he could be locked into an hourly paid hell like I have just been through.

I had my 15 minutes of fame when I was young…I got to experience a dream . Flooded with those feelings of euphoria that comes from knowing that you have done something really great and you did it better than you ever thought you could. I did not always have a smooth path to travel on but I was blessed with good people in my life as well as the ability to see beyond the bad stuff and learn from it. I never had a lot but always seem to have enough. I chose to be a parent though others may think differently….to me that in itself is a lifetime career with endless rewards.

Knowing that I needed a stable job to be a good provider I picked the one industry that  included a lot of the elements of my dream job…The restaurant world…keeping in mind that this was at a time when mom & pop places could still thrive and the goal was to serve up atmosphere …good food….and affordable prices. I loved to cook. I loved to please people. I loved to perform and in an open kitchen format…I was queen bee. Nothing fancy. No roses made of radishes . Simple comfort food …Blues or classic rock always playing in the background. Smiles and laughter a prerequisite for walking in the door. I worked long hours and didn’t make a lot of money but as I said it always seemed to be enough. I got to work with so many young kids just starting out. I was told I was a good person to work for…even won a few community awards. Many of the young people I trained in such a small little setting went on to be very successful managers.

Corporations began putting the squeeze on small places with higher prices for ones who couldn’t afford to buy mega-quantities at a time. So for those of you who wondered…it wasn’t the government or insurance costs that did in your favorite diner…like with the oil industry the food industry can be just as cut throat if not more. After 20 years in the same location…my little piece of heaven was gone and with two sons to still provide for I did the same thing others like me had to do…I went to work for one of those corporations.

It was a bit stifling at first, the pace faster…public contact somewhat muted but little by little I made my own niche…little by little once again I had a following and a hungry audience to feed and perform for. For more than 14 years, I worked hard…made so many friends…again never making a lot of money but we got by . I delighted in showing my sons that happiness and pride in your job was important no matter what you did for a living.

 Than a little over two years ago, the company I worked for was sold . The new CEO than proceeded to cut costs starting with the hourly help. We were forced to take pay cuts being told at first that it was to keep the company from going bankrupt than it was more forcefully imposed that if you didn’t agree you would be fired and it was scary to find out that in my state…the power is all on the Corporation’s side. Our benefits like paid vacations…401k help…good strong insurance …all taken and replaced with basically nothing. Those of us that had been with the company the longest were hit the hardest.

I lost 6 years worth of raises but I had one friend who lost so much more. They cut hours of older employees to the point that they could no longer qualify for the better health coverage. There is no pensions or compensation for working for 20 years in most of the food industry. ( Though I did get a plaque and a table top grill for 15 years.) There is only…”you’re old…slow and we can get teenagers to do the job faster and cheaper.”

Did you know that most corporate restaurants have timers in the place and quotas of seconds that need to be shaved off order to have a …”get them in and get them out” sort of format ? Time is money and quality of service always seem to be in conflict. Think about that the next time you get annoyed because you are in the drive-thru line longer than you think you should be…know that the people inside will undoubtedly get yelled at and possibly fired because their time was over the 1 minute and 24 seconds they were allotted.

I had been lucky that our last leadership had the mind-set to try and put the customer first but sadly once again, that all-good-things-must-come-to-an-end won out. What wasn’t widely know is that the Bank CEOs and Wall Street fat cats weren’t the only ones who took liberties with the economic crisis. After cutting our pay and benefits our new CEO gave himself a hugh raise and acclaimed one of the reasons was he was helping the company reap a profit. We weren’t doing more business though he just took the money from the workers and gave it to the shareholders instead.

Than our District Manager informed me that after cutting my hourly rate, I was now at the top of the wage “cap”, essentially telling me that no matter how many more years I worked for them…no matter how good a job I did… I would never receive another raise. How do they expect someone to want to continue after that ? And yet, I did….why ? Because I had loved my job so…I loved my customers, many of which had been with me a very long time. I loved the pride I felt being a part of making my store better. I am old-school…I worked my way from the bottom. I am not someone who doesn’t understand what it takes to have a successful business but I also believe that not everything can be mass manufactured when you add consumer confidence and loyalty to the mix.

Too much competition in the marketplace today not to work on things that make you stand out & that shows you can bend to what your corner of the market wants from you. My uniqueness as a cook use to help us hold on to a rather large group of regulars that we could count on even in the lean times but my effectiveness has been stifled this last year and as I stated before my experience….my skills…all the things that make up a big part of who I have become…do not fit into the mold of how and what they want done now. This “old dog” could still learn new tricks but had a hard time understanding why they had to go about things the wrong ways. Couldn’t just keep my mouth shut and accept the shorter leash. I was more than just an hourly robot and  it became all too obvious that there was no longer a place for me, my ideas and especially my opinions so it was hard to walk away from a place that was such a big part of my life for so long but I did.

 I had seen in the faces of my sons such concern…they had to watch as my self-esteem and joy in my work was ripped away from me. I know that some parents hide this kind of adversity from their children but when you try to raise them on the belief in being open and honest…it’s sort of something that you have to set the example for or risk it just being empty words on a page. There is also a place you get to that makes you re-evaluate your own definition of importance especially when you find yourself saying final farewells to three special people in less than four months. The last one being someone who started this journey of life with me and now has left me with a cryptic message of not wasting anymore time on things that are beyond my control to change and focus more on the things I can effect change in….like helping those less fortunate than me…being a part of groups that are fighting to help our country get back on track…try to step up and remember that one single voice might get loss in a crowd but one added to others makes for a hell of a choir… and building more happy memories with those I love because these are the things that matter and will live on after me.

Some of my friends are disappointed in me for “giving up” but it wasn’t a question of giving up… it was a question of giving in and compromising so many things I believe in. Does a corporation get rewarded for getting my skills at no benefits & a ridiculously low price ? If so, how long do you think it would  be before they are in front of me again taking something else away and telling me to accept it or move on ? Moving on seemed the best way to get back at least a piece of my sanity as well as my self-respect.

It’s been hard to fill out job apps…only having two jobs in 30 years looks a bit strange but I will keep moving forward. I am old school but I like to think that I can still learn new things. One manager who interviewed me told me that it wasn’t my age that bothered him it was my experience because I had more than his whole staff did…silly that anyone could think that you can be over-qualified to flip burgers… though…FYI…there is a knack to it J

Thanks for sharing this little rant with me, I actually feel a lot better than when I started it.